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Posted on 25th April 2018 by Martina Nee

Planning on jetting off somewhere within the EU for your summer holidays? Lucky you! Hopefully it will all go smoothly and the only thing you have to worry about is a bit of sunburn or the post-cocktail recovery.

Unfortunately, the ECC Ireland team hears from a lot of consumers after their summer holidays didn’t exactly go according to plan. From accommodation and car rental nightmares to electronic gadget fraud, we’ve heard it all. So, this month we are going to share with you five of the most common misconceptions some consumers have when planning their break away.

The consumer success story of the month involves a consumer who eventually got her refund for an airport transfer that failed to show while the consumer query is about a dodgy holiday villa website that took the money but then disappeared.

You can download your free April eBulletin PDF here or, alternatively, read on to find out more.

 

summer holidays

 

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Five common misconceptions when planning summer holidays

It’s easy to get carried away when dreaming of relaxing on a beach somewhere or exploring many of the wonderful destinations that the EU has to offer. However, we often forget to do our homework when booking elements of the holiday, to be prepared if things go wrong, and to be wary of suspicious activity. It’s understandable really – the only worry we often have at this point is if that bikini/swim gear will fit or will factor 30 be enough?

Here are some of the most common misconceptions that many consumers have, and some answers:

1. Booking holiday accommodation online is so easy, just click a button and start packing the beach wear.

Booking accommodation online is very convenient but you still need to make sure you do your research and know what you’re booking. A lot of us sun seekers use third-party accommodation ‘intermediary-style’ websites which are great for giving us a list of all the prices from different providers. However, consumers often get a bit confused by the ‘book now, pay later’ or ‘free cancellation’ options. Many forget to check when and how the payment will be eventually taken – for example, is it via the credit card on/by a particular date or is it taken at the hotel desk when you check in? We all know that nothing in life comes free, so that handy ‘free cancellation’ is usually at no extra cost only for a certain period, for example, maybe about 14 days before check-in. After that, it may not be possible to cancel or there is a fee applied.

Whether you’re using an intermediary site or booking directly through the accommodation provider’s own website, holidaymakers should always ensure they know what the final total cost will be and read the terms and conditions fully prior to hitting that purchase button. It may also be a good idea to take screenshots of the relevant information presented during the booking process and how the accommodation was advertised to you, just in case it turns out to be some sort of roach motel or there’s construction that you weren’t told about. If there is a problem at the hotel, collect evidence (e.g. pictures) and make a complaint on site to the management (also put it in writing if possible).

Then there’s the problem of the ‘too good to be true’ deals that suddenly become available during the peak holiday season. While many are indeed legitimate, with the purpose of getting empty flight seats or hotel rooms booked, there are unfortunately a lot of fraudsters out there who prey on those looking to nab a last-minute getaway bargain.

Read more

 

2. I don’t have to do anything to access emergency medical care within the EU. I’ll deal with it, if it happens.

When it comes to your health it’s good not to take any chances. Why not take all the steps you can now to ensure that you can access the emergency medical care that you may need if you fall ill or there is an accident? It only takes just a few minutes (less than 10 mins to be exact) to go to the HSE website and apply for a European Health Insurance Card or EHIC, and better still, it’s totally free. What’s not to like?

Important things to note about EHIC: The card can be used when treatment becomes necessary during a temporary visit but does not cover instances where the purpose of the visit is to obtain medical care. The card does not entitle you to a higher level of cover than what is available to eligible citizens in the country you are visiting, for example, in some countries, treatments are provided free of charge or at a reduced cost but in others, you must pay the total cost and then claim a refund or a partial refund back later.

Read more

 

You can also find out more tips from ECC Ireland’s Summer Survival Kit guide.

 

3. I haven’t got time to make sure everything is okay with my car rental when on holiday. Sure, it’ll be grand!

It’ll be grand?? Not necessarily, so get that notion out of your head right now. It’s understandable that when you land you want to get the holiday party started as soon as possible or the kids are hot and bothered, there’s a massive queue and you just want to drive off into the sunset. Many a consumer has learnt (sometimes too late) that there are a lot of things you should consider when renting a car abroad.

ECC Ireland has heard from consumers who, when they get to the car rental desk, have been left confused about the fuel policy, deposit requirements, and/or whether to get the car rental’s insurance cover or not. It’s so important to thoroughly read through the terms and conditions so that you know what is/is not included in your booking. Before you even get to the desk you should know whether you want to stick with your own third-party insurance/excess cover (if you’ve bought this) or buy the car rental company’s cover – just remember that if you decide on the former you may have to pay a deposit.

Read more

 

Check out the car rental section of our website as well as previous articles on booking your car rental online and car rental dos and don’ts.

 

4. If my carry-on luggage must go into the hold and something happens to my expensive laptop or jewellery then the airline is responsible, right?

If you’re looking for the airline to pay you back for losing valuable/fragile items in baggage that goes in the hold then think again. Unfortunately, even if you are told at the departure gate that you cannot bring your second larger cabin luggage on to the plane with you and that it has to go into the hold (with the other checked-in luggage) then it is still your responsibility to ensure that you take valuable/fragile items out of it and bring it on board with you.

Why is this? Well, if you check the terms and conditions of most airlines, looking specifically for their policies in relation to baggage then you will normally find information about liability and what should/should not be included in checked/unchecked baggage. It’s important to note here that earlier this year Ryanair changed its baggage policy so that now ‘non-priority’ customers have to place their 10kg carry-on bags in the hold. So, always check baggage policies thoroughly!

Read more

 

Here’s more advice about your baggage rights and what to do.

Check out the video below created by ECC France showing what items are prohibited and what is allowed in carry-on and checked in baggage. However, remember to take your valuables out if your larger carry-on baggage must go into the hold.

 

5. I love buying shiny new gadgets when on my holiday. Sure, don’t you get a great bargain on things like electronic goods?

It may be cheaper yeah, but is it a good purchase? Not necessarily. Every year, ECC Ireland receives numerous reports from consumers who have been to popular hot spots and been conned by some unscrupulous traders.

Scams involving the purchase of electronic goods can and do happen at popular sun destinations everywhere but the majority of those dealt with by ECC Ireland have involved Irish holidaymakers in the Canary Islands. Although many traders are reputable, there are some who have used aggressive or misleading selling techniques to pressurise consumers into buying items such as cameras or tablets with the result that they are conned into paying far more than they intended. Other complaints have involved traders suggesting that the product will not function to its highest standard unless the consumer pays for costly supplementary items such as broadband and software, or insurance. Holidaymakers have also been lured in with discounts only to be talked into purchasing other products that have a much higher price tag or are part of a fake subscription. A common scenario involves the consumer paying for the product, but he/she is then told there is a problem and asked for card details again only to be charged a large sum of money. There are instances where the more vulnerable holidaymakers are targeted at their hotels with these traders offering extra assistance such as the delivery of the product or an escort to the shop. Although the majority of cases involve sums of between €200 and €300 being fraudulently taken, there have been instances where €5,000 to €7,000 has been taken out of consumers’ accounts.

Read more

 

If you’re travelling to Spain (including the Canary Islands) this summer then check out ECC Ireland’s Travelling to Spain guide.

 

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Other useful ECC Ireland information links to check out ahead of your summer holidays

 

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Consumer success story of the month:

An Irish consumer ordered a return shuttle bus service for Faro Airport with a UK company. However, for the return journey the transport failed to turn up, even though the consumer had contacted the company a number of times to confirm. When she returned home, the consumer lodged a complaint three times but received no response. After contacting ECC Ireland for help, the complaint was passed on to colleagues in the UK who contacted the trader requesting reimbursement for the leg of the journey not provided and the additional costs incurred (taxi journey). The trader agreed to refund the consumer in full as requested.

Consumer query of the month:

Q: I booked accommodation in Mallorca through a Spanish holiday villa website. The day before I was due to fly out, I received an email stating that there had been an accident and that someone had died as a result. I was then advised to cancel my flights and that my accommodation costs will be refunded. It turned out that the flights, that I booked separately, were non-refundable so I decided to travel and book different accommodation. I have requested the promised refund from the accommodation provider but they have stopped replying to my emails. What can I do?

A:  It seems that this website is no longer in existence which suggests that it may have been set up for a short time and was not a trustworthy site. Unfortunately, this may also make it very difficult to contact the trader for the purposes of requesting a refund. However, if you paid with a secure method of payment such as a credit card then you have the option of contacting your bank/credit card provider to avail of chargeback. These requests are assessed on a case-by-case basis and they there is usually a time limit of about 120 days, so it is important to do this as soon as you can.

If you suspect you have been the victim of fraud then you should consider reporting the matter to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.

 

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If you want more information about this or any other cross-border consumer issue, please contact us on 01 8797 620 or go to www.eccireland.ie. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Martina Nee

Press and Communications Manager

The European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), which covers 30 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland), and offers a free and confidential information and advice service to the public on their rights as consumers, assisting customers with cross-border disputes. ECC Ireland is funded by the European Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the European Consumer Centre cannot be held responsible for matters arising from any errors or omissions contained in this publication. The information provided is intended as a guide only and not as a legal interpretation.

© 2018 – European Consumer Centre (Ireland), CLG incorporated in Ireland, No. 367035, Registered Charity No. 20048617 – CHY14708. Located at MACRO Centre, 1 Green Street, Dublin 7.

This ebulletin was funded by the European Union’s Consumer Programme (2014-2020).

The content of this ebulletin represents the views of the author only and it is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture, and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA) or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

 

Competition and consumer protection commission